The CACTUS crew work hard delivering a programme that helps young people build on their skills. Photo: Anthony Phelps.

Sponsorship boost for youth

An initiative geared to helping build life skills and confidence in young people has been given a $90,000 boost.

Marlborough Lines will sponsor the CACTUS (Combined Adolescent Challenge Training Unit Support) programme in Blenheim and Picton.

Over the next three years, staff have pledged to fund $30,000 a year.

Marlborough Lines chief executive Tim Cosgrove says the programme is a good fit with the company’s ideals.

“It has a good spread across the region and is really youth-focused… the programme is already in place, it’s well-run and has clearly demonstrated results.

“It’s the sort of thing we’re proud to support and commit to.”

More than 650 young people have taken part in the eight-week course since 2008.

Three mornings a week, participants take part in intensive training between 6am and 7am, building up to the Longest Day, when all their skills are put together in a series of exercises.

Marlborough Youth Trust trustee and police officer Dean Buckley says the proof of CACTUS’ success is its longevity.

“If it wasn’t as successful, it wouldn’t be going still.”

He says the course helps youth in all aspects, improving their resilience and teamwork among other things.

“It’s quite powerful on the CV as well. Often young people don’t have much to put on their CV, but this is great.

“Employers see this young person has a bit of go, a bit of commitment.”

Youth mentor Reuben Molnar says CACTUS is an “awesome” programme.

“From day one, to the finish of the programme, huge improvements in self-confidence, fitness levels, and building a connection, building a tribe, and able to connect into other things we do, events and other activities.”

Marlborough Youth Trust chair Russell Smith says the course really has a long-lasting effect.

“This sponsorship will give certainty to a programme that we know has results. It means our staff time can be put into things we want to be doing like youth development rather than chasing their tails to find finance to make things work,” he says.

Springlands School students Maisie Cornelius and Jaye Wiapo with their gold-medal-winning science fair project. Photo: Matt Brown.

Science fair finds right formula for success

Young scientists are set to make history as the annual Marlborough Lines Science and Technology Fair moves online.

For decades, thousands of curious Marlborough school children have taken part in the popular event, proudly showing off their projects.

But Covid-19 means this year’s event will be different from any previously held.

Organiser Hugh Lensen says this is the first time the fair hasn’t had a physical presence

“[Going online] is a good idea otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to do it at all,” he says.

Video and digital slides will replace the traditional hand drawn poster boards and papier mache models.

But the carefully crafted poster boards will still make an appearance at schools where they can be shared with fellow pupils.

The online move has proven so popular that some would-be entrants had to be turned away.

Springlands School students Jaye Wiapo and Maisie Cornelius won a school gold medal for their science project, ‘An apple a day keeps the dentist away’.

The pair were intrigued by Maisie’s granddad, who claimed eating two apples was enough to replace brushing his teeth.

“It actually wrecks your teeth,” Maisie says.

They tested a variety of apples, hoping to find a type that would prove her granddad’s claims.

“The Pink Lady was the most harmful,” Jaye says.

“Royal Gala was the best for your teeth.”

But their research found that apples in general aren’t particularly good for teeth – and are not a replacement for brushing.

“There are all sorts of out there projects,” Hugh says.

“A lot of students have not really wanted to do a project but then have really got into it.

“Some have gone to university, studying science, and changed their career path just because they enjoyed the science fair as a kid.

“Students can end up with a bundle of money.”

Career Navigation days are helping Marlborough students secure jobs locally. Photo: Steve Hussey Photography.

Smooth sailing for students’ career initiative

It was a case of third time lucky for students taking part in a career’s day to learn more about Marlborough’s aquaculture sector.

The visit offered as part of the Career Navigation programme had to be called off twice, once because of Covid-19 and then because of bad weather.

But it was finally all smooth sailing for the students who got the chance to learn about different aspects of the industry from the team at Sanford.

Career Navigator is currently offered to Year 12 and 13 students at Marlborough Boys’ College, Marlborough Girls’ College and Queen Charlotte College.

It pairs students with businesspeople from a range of industries across the region serving as mentors – coupled with the support of over 120 local businesses and organisations.

Programme coordinator Tania Smith says the programme has been very successful.

“Some students have discovered new pathways they had never considered before.

“Other students have had their career pathways confirmed and now they know more about the reality of the industry they were contemplating.”

From sustainability to naval architecture and design, students were given an insight into the seafood industry.

Tania says the initiative has helped students find jobs in Marlborough.

“We’re also really delighted that some of our previous students have found jobs in their chosen field with employers right here in Marlborough.

“It all goes really well with our vision for all young people to have a purposeful pathway into their future,” she says.

“Enormous thanks to Grant Boyd, Rebekah Anderson, Dave Herbert and Les McClung from Sanford for making it such a cool learning experience for us all – and to Springlands Lifestyle Village for the transport.”

Hub committee members thank the community for their help. Photo: Matt Brown

Awatere ECE another step closer

The Awatere ECE Hub committee are “cranking into overdrive” as the realisation of years of hard work comes to fruition.

Construction on a new centre bringing the Awatere/Flaxbourne Plunket, Awatere Playcentre and the Awatere Early Learning Centre under one roof is hoped to begin early next year.

And on Thursday the committee held a special ceremony to thank early supporters of the decade-long project.

Awatere ECE Hub committee chair Phil Muir says they’re taking the opportunity to show their appreciation to the community for all their support.

“It’s been a long time coming.

“There’s a truck load of planning that goes into it, which is what we’ve been doing.”

He says the committee are still waiting on the decision of a Lotteries grant application for $1,354,000 expected during August.

“If that all comes together, we’re potentially starting the build next year,” Phil says.

The area was struck by a 7.8 magnitude quake in 2016, damaging the buildings serving the communities youngest residents beyond repair.

The group’s goal is to raise $2.1 million to build the modern hub.

A new sign showing the amount raised for the learning hub was unveiled at the ceremony.

Committee member Olivia Doonan says she was hoping for the Lotteries decision in time for today’s certificate ceremony so “we would have a bit more of the red line filled in”.

“This will be such an amazing thing for our community,” she says.

“It’s close, after years of working on it.”

“Since the 2013 earthquake we’ve been repairing. It’s been going on for a long time.

“It’s the culmination of years of the community trying to provide the right services.”

She says the ceremony was to show their appreciation for the community’s support.

“We’re wanting to get the build started at the end of the year.

“We’re cranking into overdrive to get it going.”

James Galloway, Alina Joe, Lucy Bridgen, Maisie Davison and Dave Pauling, with Elijah Galloway and Andrew Kubis, front, take delivery of new technology. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Top up for local schools

A Marlborough based fuel company is helping keep hundreds of school children topped up with technology & sports equipment.

Southfuels a New Zealand wide bulk fuel distribution company has donated $80,000 to schools across the Marlborough region through their Fuel for Schools sponsorship programme.

The nationwide initiative has helped put more than $1 million dollars of resources into more than 350 rural schools in the last twelve years.

Pupils at Richmond View School in Blenheim are the latest to benefit, with a special technology package worth over $5000 delivered on Thursday, this package included 11 Chromebooks, an iPad and other technology for the classroom.

Southfuels Marlborough account manager Maisie Davison says customers nominate a school to receive 50 cents for every 100 litres of bulk fuel they have delivered.

“I’d like to give a big shout out and massive thank you to all our customers throughout the Marlborough region who contribute and all the schools who take part.”

Southfuels customers and programme supporters, O’Donnell Park Barging and Kenny Barging manager James Galloway and Amber-Lousie Connor from Waikawa Fishing Company were at Richmond View School to hand deliver the children get their new technology packages.

“One of our values is betterment for all and we do that in a number of different ways; we have a community van and of course, donate through Fuels for Schools’ says James.

“Being able to see just how much there is and how excited the children are is great. It’s like Christmas.”

When a participating school reaches a $1000 in donations they can pick between a technology or sports package.

Richmond School principal Dave Pauling says the donation makes a big difference to students.

“It helps enormously. We know what we need, and we get to choose.

“Some of these things go to children who might not have them otherwise.”

There are a number of schools in the region whom have benefited from the Fuel for Schools programme in recent times, including Mayfield School, Seddon School, Witherlea School, Linkwater Primary, Ward School, Spring Creek School, Fairhall School, Wairau Valley School and Riverlands School.

To get involved or find out more call Maisie Davison on 0275936229, and start supporting your local school today.

Acting principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn, left, with outgoing Bohally School principal Shane Campbell. Photo: Matt Brown.

Principal hangs up his captain hat

A much-loved school principal has relinquished his captaincy as new challenges overseas beckon.

Bohally School principal Shane Campbell was farewelled at a schoolwide assembly on Friday as he looks forward to a new job at an international school in Kuala Lumpar.

And a ship captains’ hat – a symbol of Shane’s leadership given to him when he first joined the school – was handed over to deputy principal Nicky Cameron-Dunn, who will take the role of acting principal until next year.

Shane says he leaves the school in the hands of a “dedicated” group of teachers and specially acknowledged the school’s deputy principals.

“There’s a real strong sense of support from the community,” he says.

The farewell, led by two year eight students, featured songs, dancing, and heartfelt messages of thanks to the principal of five years, with one student saying Shane put them, and learning, above all else.

Bohally board of trustee’s chair Suzie Glover says Shane’s kindness and integrity has always been clear from his actions.

“He builds learning partnerships with parents and whanau.

“He’s focused on the kids first and easy to talk to.”

Suzie says Shane has had a positive effect on the culture at Bohally and wished him “every success” in his new leadership role.

Originally from Golden Bay, Shane took the top job at Bohally in 2015 following a stint as principal at a primary school in Northland.

He joked he had worn through eight pairs of shoes pacing the halls of Bohally.

Under his watch, the school roll has grown from 392 in 2015 to 529 this year and more than 550 students expected next year.

Shane says it’s a privilege to be able to focus funding on just year 7 and 8 students.

“We’re lucky to have an intermediate school in Marlborough,” Shane says.

“What I’ve enjoyed the most is we can spend all the money on two year groups.”

The one thing he says he won’t miss at his new role in Malaysia – the cold, frosty mornings.

Marlborough Girls’ College students Beth Gray, Destiny Aires and Vita Elworthy. Photo: Matt Brown.

Business students’ wake up call

Students needing a good night’s sleep have sparked a business idea for a team of college entrepreneurs.

Four Marlborough Girls’ College business students have created special sprays to help people relax at night and feel refreshed in the morning.

Their new company, Mellow, is fully funded by the team who hope their new venture will get the money coming in.

The team settled on the facial sprays after their market research revealed many of their peers often felt tired or rundown.

Mellow chief executive Destiny Aires says the facial sprays weren’t the group’s first business idea.

Butter sticks, dog biscuits and reselling secondhand clothing were all ideas left on the cutting room floor, she says.

“We came up with a few ideas before we settled on Mellow. We had to think of a problem or an issue and then solve it.

“One of the sprays calms your mind and relaxes you. The other reinvigorates you and wakes you up in the morning.”

Production and communications manager Vita Elworthy says expert help was invaluable to get the sprays to trial stage.

Vita says the team made the most of their business mentor Erena Oliver’s knowledge of essential oils.

“She explained the properties of the oils and we made our own recipe based on that,” Vita says.

“We had a few prototypes – the first one didn’t smell too nice. We had to make it appeal to people – to make it smell nice and make people want to put it on.

“It applies to everyone, but we’re targeting youth.”

Destiny, who’s aiming to be a hotel manager, says business studies and the practical experience was really useful.

Finance director Beth Gray says the project has been exciting.

“It’s fun having full control, from the logo to the packaging,” she says.

“We’ve all contributed ideas.

“It would be cool to keep it going.”

Beth and Vita are looking to take a more creative route in their future – but both agreed the business experience was an eye-opener.

“Alongside tiredness and not getting enough sleep – it won’t lead to breakouts,” Vita says.

“It’s made for sensitive skin,” Destiny adds.

The young entrepreneurs will soon take up a stall at the Sunday Farmers’ Market with the sleep sprays retailing at $12.99.

Our tagline is ‘the natural way’, Destiny says.

Witherlea School deputy principal Kirsty Stone. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Goodbye Witherlea

After 20 years of teaching, a much-loved Witherlea School staff member is bidding farewell to staff and students.

Deputy principal Kirsty Stone will move on from the Witherlea school, thankful for the relationships she built with children and families over her two decades.

“I will miss my family here very much,” she says.

“But it’s always good to have a change and I’m excited about that too.”

Kirsty vividly remembers the fire that tore through the Wither Hills in 2001, it was her introduction to the region.

Moving to Marlborough to look after her sick father, she fell in love with the school and put down deep roots.

A teacher for 34 years, first in Wellington then the UK, she says she is passionate not only about teaching, but learning too.

“I taught right from the word go,” she says.

“We’re lucky at Witherlea, we have dedicated, passionate people.

“It’s such an amazing school.

While she isn’t leaving the industry, Kirsty says she believes teaching is becoming more challenging.

“There’s a lot of pressure on teachers,” she says.

“You have to really love teaching, otherwise you do something else.”

She says she will miss the strong connections with the kids and the local community at the 400-pupil strong school.

One of her proudest achievements is growing the school’s flourishing Kapa Haka group.

“Kapa Haka went from my class and one other eight years ago, about 40 students, to just under 200 today.

“That would be one of my proud moments.

Kirsty has also been a force for pastoral care in the community.

“We identify children that might be at risk, from grief, trauma or abuse, and put in small systems and mentoring,” she says.

“Wellbeing has become a special focus at our school.

“To the community, I would like to say a special, personal thank you for the privilege, and it is a privilege, of teaching their children.”

Whitney Street School principal Cheryl Wadworth with students, from left, Rylan Nicholson, Alex Wood, Alia-Rose Mackel and Celia Spencer.

Students feel the squeeze

Students at a Blenheim school have been feeling the squeeze as overloaded classrooms struggled to cope with demand.

Staff and pupils at Whitney Street School in Blenheim have faced a three year wait for the Ministry of Education to act.

Now education bosses have pledged funds for two new classrooms in the space-stricken school.

Students will no longer have to use the school’s library as a classroom, says Whitney Street School principal Cheryl Wadworth.

“We’ve had to wait and be innovative with the space we have,” she says.

A new building housing two new classrooms is hoped to be completed by the end of the year.

Zoned at the end of 2016, the Eltham Road school caters for pupils living in central Blenheim up to the new Omaka subdivision in the south.

It’s last ERO report in 2017 noted the school was undergoing “significant roll growth.”

But after zoning the 67-year-old school, the Ministry of Education realised there were not enough classrooms to cope.

Cheryl says she doesn’t expect the 366-pupil school roll to increase much more.

“We anticipate we should not be getting any bigger,” she says.

“We want to maintain current numbers.”

Ministry of Education deputy sector enablement and support Katrina Casey says the ministry will monitor roll trends and may consider an enrolment scheme review.

Using other school spaces as classrooms is only ever meant to be a temporary fix.

“Spaces such as libraries, halls and multi-purpose rooms are sometimes used to temporarily accommodate students during building projects, periods of high roll numbers or to allow for flexible teaching arrangements.

“As communities change, so too do the schooling needs of their children and young people,” Katrina says.

“Our job is to manage school infrastructure by planning for growth and population shifts both in the short–term and much further out as well.

“To do this, we consider population projections, local council information enrolment data and how well schools are utilised.

“We regularly monitor the capacity and projected growth of the school network,” she says.

Two additional classrooms were built at the school in 2017 but rezoning put the space under pressure.

“The ministry looks at the roll numbers and prioritise from there” Cheryl says.

“Now, we’re at capacity.”

“We’ll be extremely happy to have the new learning environments.”

Coralanne Child. Photo: Supplied.

Support for sex scandal school in wake of guilty pleas

Education bosses have pledged their ongoing support to a school stricken by an underage sex scandal.

Students at a Blenheim high school are a “top priority” say Ministry of Education staff after a former member of staff pleaded guilty to having sex with minors.

In the wake of her guilty pleas, acting deputy secretary, sector enablement and support Coralanne Child says support to those affected is ongoing.

“The safety and wellbeing of students is a top priority for us, as it is for boards of trustees, parents and whānau.

“In this case, we continue to offer our support to the school and its board as it moves past this challenging event,” she says.

The woman, who cannot be named, admitted seven counts of having sex with minors, and two of sending sexual images and video to minors, at the Blenheim District Court last week.

She was convicted and bailed for sentencing.

Her registration with the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand has been cancelled though she may be eligible to apply again.

A spokeswoman from the council says no formal hearing will be held though the former teacher will be told officially that she has been struck from the register.

“A person with a cancelled teacher registration is able to apply for registration again.

“However, if they have been convicted of a specified offence, they must first be granted an exemption by the Ministry of Social Development.

“Then the person may apply to the Teaching Council for registration and we review and consider if the person meets our registration requirements,” she says.

The school’s Board of Trustees welcomed the woman’s guilty pleas, saying it “ensures justice” for all those caught up in the case.

In a letter to parents, the chairman of the Board of Trustees says he hopes the move will “provide closure.”

“Her actions breached the trust of so many and it is appropriate that she has taken sole responsibility by pleading guilty,” he says.

He added that he hoped sentencing at the end of the year would allow people to move forward.

“I am very thankful that this matter will be concluded before the end of the year for the sake of our community, staff, parents and boys.“I would like to thank the police and all of the other agencies involved in this case for their diligence and their care during this very difficult time … and ensuring that this did not impact on the wider student body of our college,” he says.

But not everyone has been happy with the handling of the case, with one worried parent branding it “disgusting”.

The woman, who asked not to be named, says the scandal was felt by the wider community.

She says the guilty woman seemingly showed no remorse for her actions and was spotted at several public events, including junior rugby games.

“Talk about allowing her access to a smorgasbord of underage boys.

“I’m not comfortable with her being allowed to watch my boy play rugby and I know other parents feel the same.

“If this was a male teacher who was accused of having sex with underage girls- I highly doubt he would be allowed down the netball courts.

“Those poor boys and their families being made to look like fools by our justice system.”

The woman will appear for sentencing at Blenheim District Court on 17 December.